Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has appealed to President Bola Tinubu to urgently intervene as state governments have sealed or threatened to shut base station transmission (BTS) sites over unpaid taxes by operators.
Apart from looming fear of imminent blackout of telecommunications services in parts of the country, ALTON, also claimed that the actions of the state governments were a threat to the huge investments.
Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of ALTON, also decried imposition of multiple taxes and levies on operators, noting that the move is as a disincentive to the growth of the industry despite its significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He advised governments at all levels to strengthen collaborations by protecting telecoms infrastructure, stating that telecommunication remained a key enabler of socio-economic development, job creation, digital economy and financial inclusion.
Adebayo added that base stations are significant hardware that should not be tampered with, as they are key for accelerating data and voice transmission from one location to another, besides enhancing effective communication and financial transactions across all sectors of the economy.
He canvassed formulation and implementation of a policy that protects telecoms infrastructure from theft, willful destruction, undue interference and overlapping regulatory functions by multiple government agencies.
The ALTON chairman insisted that the audit of telecoms infrastructure by Osun State and imposition of levies on operators were double taxation, stressing that it would further increase the current 46 taxes players pay across the federation.
“Telcos are still facing challenges from the Kogi State government that has imposed all manners of taxes on telecoms operations, and has gone ahead to seal base stations in the state, without recourse to quality of telecoms services in the state and its environs,” he lamented.
Adebayo appealed to the Federal Government and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to prevail on state governments to stop arbitrary sealing of BTS sites and other practices that harm the growth of the sector.
He warned that the ‘impunity’ in Kogi, Oyo and Osun could spread to other states and negatively affect quality of service if left unchecked.
Kogi is one of the states where the government, about two years ago, started taxing telecommunications firms, and has at various times, sealed base station sites for non-payment of levies.
The Oyo State government, a few weeks ago, also announced that it had sealed some masts and commercial banks in Ibadan over non-payment of taxes.
Its Osun counterpart recently contracted a private consulting firm to conduct a telecoms infrastructure installation audit, an exercise projected to generate N500 million revenue.